January 18, 2012 / 10:22 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-EU to examine price fixing by French water utilities

* Suez Environnement, Lyonnaise des Eaux, Veolia probed

* Saur, French trade body FP2E also investigated

* Commission can fine up to 10 pct of sales for breaches (Adds Suez Environment comment)

BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether French companies Suez Environnement and Veolia together with French trade association FP2E may have fixed prices in the water and waste water services sector.

The investigation by the European Commission followed raids on the companies in April 2010.

The European Union executive said on Wednesday that the probe also covered Suez Environnement’s subsidiary Lyonnaise des Eaux, and Saur.

“The Commission will examine whether the undertakings concerned have coordinated their behaviour in markets for water and waste water services in France, in particular with respect to elements of the price invoiced to final consumers,” the commission said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Suez Environnement said the company was cooperating with the commission.

“We are confident that there is real competition in the French water sector,” she said.

The regulator fined Suez and Lyonnaise des Eaux 8 million euro ($10.19 million) in 2011 for breaking a seal affixed during the raid.

Veolia, the biggest water company in France, declined to comment.

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their annual turnover for breaching EU rules. ($1 = 0.7851 euros) (Reporting By Charlie Dunmore, additional reporting by Benjamin Mallet in Paris; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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